Resigning ex-minister Chris Skidmore wrong on climate, says Jeremy HuntPublished18 minutes agoShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingRelated TopicsClimateImage source, ReutersBy Emily McGarveyBBC NewsJeremy Hunt has said he “profoundly” disagrees with former Conservative minister Chris Skidmore who quit as an MP over the government’s energy plans.Mr Skidmore announced on Friday he was standing down ahead of a vote on a bill on Monday to guarantee annual oil and gas licensing rounds.The chancellor said: “It is very sad to lose a respected colleague like Chris Skidmore.”But I do profoundly disagree with the reasons that he gave for resigning.”Mr Skidmore, who signed the UK’s 2050 net zero commitment into law as an energy minister under former Prime Minister Theresa May, said the bill would send a “global signal that the UK is rowing ever further back from its climate commitments”.Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that when he became chancellor, he worked closely with Mr Skidmore on climate change issues.He said: “The independent panel for climate change that we have in this country are very clear that even when we reach net zero in 2050, we will still get a significant proportion of our energy from fossil fuels, and domestic oil and gas is four times cleaner than imported oil and gas.”Mr Skidmore, the MP in Kingswood, Gloucestershire, had already announced he would not stand as an MP at the next election.Asked whether he viewed Mr Skidmore as a “rat leaving a sinking ship”, Mr Hunt said: “No, I think he is just wrong on that issue.”He feels very passionate about that… but the point is, I think he is wrong on North Sea oil and gas.”The government announced the bill in November, in a bid to draw a dividing line with Labour, which has said it will not issue new licences if it wins power.Ministers say the legislation, which will fix yearly North Sea fossil fuel licensing in law, will help improve the UK’s energy security.Mr Hunt was speaking to the BBC to champion a cut in National Insurance payments for millions of employees from Saturday.Tory MP Skidmore quits over oil and gas licences Plan for annual North Sea oil and gas licencesMeanwhile, Mr Hunt said that, with the ongoing attacks on international cargo ships in the Red Sea by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, “it is very important for energy security that we have domestic sources of that kind of energy as we go into transition”.Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have declared support for Hamas in the war it launched against Israel in October.Since November, the rebels have attacked commercial shipping in the Red Sea more than 20 times using missiles, drones, fast boats and helicopters. They have claimed – often falsely – the ships were linked to Israel.Some of the world’s biggest shipping companies diverting journeys away from the Red Sea – a shorter route through the Bab al-Mandab Strait and Suez Canal – as a result, meaning global supply chains could face severe disruption.The US, UK and 10 other countries have warned rebels in Yemen they will face consequences if they continue to attack commercial shipping in the Red Sea.Mr Hunt said attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes “may have an impact” on the British economy.”We obviously have to monitor what’s happening in the Red Sea very, very carefully, but I would say the overall picture is one in which the British economy has been much more resilient than what people predicted,” Mr Hunt said.”We’ve been very clear to the Houthis who are responsible for the terrorism happening in the Red Sea that there will be consequences and we will not just sit back and accept that because it’s so vital for global trade.”The chancellor was also asked about mortgage rates and comments by NatWest’s chair Sir Howard Davies who suggested it was not currently “that difficult” for people to get on the housing ladder.Sir Howard later sought to clarify his remarks, saying he “did not intend to underplay” the challenges buyers face.Asked was this the view of the government, Mr Hunt said: “No, it’s not.”What do Red Sea assaults mean for global trade?Average mortgage rate lowest for seven months”We look at the much higher mortgage rates people are charged now compared to a couple of years ago and we know that makes a real struggle for people trying to buy their first home,” Mr Hunt said.”We know if we want to bring those mortgage rates down we have to get inflation down, there’s no short cut.”I’ve been very conscious in my time as chancellor about how tough it’s been for ordinary families.”That’s why we’ve given about £3,500 of support to the average family, much more actually, on lower incomes and to people on benefits.”He disagreed with criticism about the British economy which he said, since 2010, “has been growing faster than France, Germany, Japan, Italy nearly all major economies”.Related TopicsUK economyHouthis ClimateShipping industryJeremy HuntChris SkidmoreMore on this storyTory MP Skidmore quits over oil and gas licencesPublished18 hours agoNet zero delay will hurt economy, MP’s review saysPublished13 January 2023UK says it will repel Houthi Red Sea attacksPublished5 days agoWhat do Red Sea assaults mean for global trade?Published2 days ago